Kodak Ultramax 400 – Oh no I did it again (Took the M4 and VC 21 on the road again)

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SMU

We are entering the rainy season in Singapore now, and film rolls are not easy to finish. So the roll of Kodak Ultramax 400 I loaded in the Leica M4 took a little time to finish. Particularly with a F4 lens and less light, not all opportunities are good,

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At the crossroad

I very rarely shot the Ultramax before, it is a quite cheap film you can still buy in supermarkets in France. My friend Felix, gave me a roll last time I met him, and he get a quantity of them for the same reason.

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Peninsula shopping center

The Leica M4 has no meter so I used my new Sekonic handheld light meter. All in it is doing quite a good job.

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Coleman street

The Ultramax end up being quite a different beast compare to the Portra 400. The grain is more accentuated, the colors get a bit more pink / green hue, the film I got from the lab was a bit more curly, but I am not sure it affected the scanning (with Epson v800).

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Tiong Bahru

The 21mm gave good results again, thanks to the viewfinder again I think. The vertical shots of cross roads gave what I called “dynamic” in my last post; I think they would benefit in being shot a bit lower, like wait level…

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The party is over

… but OK hand metering, range-finding (or pre-focusing or hyper focusing) and view finding are already a lot of actions for a single shot.

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Bincho
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A choir

With the 21mm the subject is often too far as above, unless you come really close to unsuspected subject …

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Fun for everybody

… for everybody’s fun.

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Carlsberg for free

Or willing models as above.

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The Instax team

Or you meet the Fuji Instax team (I did not enter the discussion about Fuji vs Kodak with them).

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Fancy fair

I also had the opportunity to take a few shots at night in a fancy fair and I must say the result is quite pleasant. A bit Saturated, but it looks the film reacted well to artificial light.

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Fancy fair
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Indonesian model

Interesting story here, aspirant photographer and aspiring make up artists from Indonesia using their friend as a model.

 

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SMU : Looping the loop

A  few weeks after the first shot back  at the SMU (Singapore Management University).

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The culprit! 

In case you directly jumped here: all shots on Kodak Ultramax 400 (not expired), with Voigtlander 21mm F4, VC viewfinder 21-25mm on Leica M4.

Kodak Ultramax 400 – Oh no I did it again (Took the M4 and VC 21 on the road again)

You can’t hurry love but you can try (More about the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

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One George Street in Singapore CDB

This is a follow up of my first write up YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE (ABOUT THE VC COLOR SKOPAR 21MM F4) For those who don’t feel like digging back in the archives (pitty, there are a couple of nice shots there and probably my best piece of text in a while), this is about picking the Voigtlander Cosina Color Skopar 21mmF4 back from the dry box and putting it back to work.

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Ice cream parlor near Singapore river

Very quickly, the 21mm had two terrible defects for me: the color fringing in digital and the difficulty to frame in general. I decided in June to invest into a proper viewfinder to try to overcome the second issue : I picked a 21-25 VC metal finder.

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Walk down the bridge

The viewfinder did a really good job, it very bright and accurate, well built and on top of it it is super sexy (I have to post pictures of the Leica IIIc with it).

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Keong Saik road corner with Teck Lim road

All pictures here are from a single roll of Kodak Portra 400 shot with Leica M4 and VC Color Skopar 21mm F4 with the now famous 21-25 VC metal finder. Even vertical framing is accurate now.

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“MY CHINATOWN HOME” by  Yip Yew Chong 30 SMITH STREET

Horizontal framing works as well. As I am a slow shooter these were probably taken over a few week ends in different areas of central Singapore.

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The guitar hero

To shoot portraits the 21mm requires you to get very close to your subject, and still you will get some distracting details in your frame. Also you may get funky perspectives even if you frame correctly your subject (thanks to the perfect new viewfinder)

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Tan Boon Liat Building – a commercial / industrial building

When yout wan to put a lot in the frame as the Tan Boon Liat Building, actually it goes in. Colors with the Portra are quite rich, and vignetting is limited.

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The Monkey God temple in Tiong Bahru

Or when you are close to buildings and want to put them in the frame as above, this is a great ultra wide angle.

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Don’t go away

I did not do many “street” shots on this roll, but the 21 gives an amazing dynamics to the shots like above.

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Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple in Little India

I was very convinced by these first 2 or 3 rolls, and this has slightly changed my photographic practice recently. I use the M262 and M6 with the summicrons for holidays or events, the M4 and IIIc with older lenses for fun( or street, or burning film name it as you want) and recently the 21 is glued to them.

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Sakya Muni Buddha Gaya Temple in Little India

So expect more posts like this one, but as you know that I found love with the VC21 again, so i will have to find out new titles.

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The Singapura Club – Little India

 

 

You can’t hurry love but you can try (More about the VC Color Skopar 21mm F4)

Polypan 50 ISO with Leica IIIc and a slow lens

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Crossing strangers

This is my third post about the Polypan 50 and thanks to my friend Felix who is always eager to feed me some more this is probably the 10th roll I have shot.

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The subtle art of panning and the scratched negative

This roll is a bit old and traveled in and out of the fridge a few time, also Felix warned me about the first two frames to generally better be avoided. Finally the film is quite thin and this may result in a bit of struggle when loading the film on the reel.  so one or two early

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Film shooters unite

So this particular roll I decided to shoot with the Leica IIIc and the Color Skopar 21mm. I am still trying hard to love this lens and the camera looks super good with the VC finder I bought last summer.

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At the skate park

At this point I have small problem because  I am not really able to guesstimate the light and I have relied on my Sekonic 308, that i bought new in 2010 with my first Leica. The little fellow is now more dead than alive, draining batteries like hell and giving random measures. So after the first half of the film I decided to go the the shop and get a new light-meter. To cut it short I bough the same one, lets hope it last as long.

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Do not disturb

So this is a recipe for disaster, a slow film, an old camera, and a slow lens. Luckily last Saturday the weather was nice when I hit Chinatown and came across Felix of course.

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Crossing

I am not a big theoretician, but what i like with the 21mm is the dynamic it gives to (rather mundane) pictures where people are moving like above or below.

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More crossing, but to slow to catch the lady’s face

Chinatown is also the opportunity to catch again and again the old folks playing Chinese checkers or chess. Some slow action going on, so speed can be lessen, perfect for my set-up.

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Another obvious thing with the 21 : you need to be close to your subject. How close is close?  Probably all the pictures in this post are done between 2 and 4 meters ; the one below more like 1 meter.

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Even better, people are rest

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And finally a bit more panning for that young lady.

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You can see my old posts about polypan50 here:

A first roll of Polypan F50

35mm Film in hassy back

Polypan 50 ISO with Leica IIIc and a slow lens

Bye Bye Dakota

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For the last post of the year, I will show you pictures of a small walk I did at Dakota Crescent estate in Singapore.

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Like Rochor Centre, Dakota is supposed to be demolished at the end of this year (so pretty soon). The estate belongs to the public housing administration (HDB), it was built in 1959 during the British area.

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The blocks have some interesting feature, some inherited form modernist lines. The most well known feature is the “dove” play ground.

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The estate is made of 17 blocks, some high rise, some lower rise, located closed between Old Airport Road and the Kaland river. Old airport road s the road that was leading to the airport that was used prior to the opening of Changi in the 1990’s I think.

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As this time the buildings are more or less empty, ready to leave way for a new development (I ignore which). There will be more pictures of Dakota as I  went there again last week. But that will be for 2017.

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Color shots done with Leica M262 and Summaron 35mmF2.8; Back and white with leica M4 with Voightlander Color Skopar 21mmF4 or Summitar 50mmF2 on odak TMY 400 film.flickr-013flickr-014flickr-019flickr-026flickr-027flickr-028flickr-030flickr-031flickr-1003444flickr-1003463flickr-1003489flickr-1003484flickr-1003486flickr-1003488flickr-1003493flickr-1003500flickr-1003491

 

Bye Bye Dakota

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day four, Monday)

So this is (was) Monday and time to bring back the camera to the shop. I woke up early and decided to walk there armed with the old Summitar 50mmF2.0 and the Voigtlander 21mmF4.0 Color Skopar.

First stop is at the Hong San See Temple on Mohammed Sultan Road.  The M240 shows no mercy for the WWII area screw mount lens : it is obvious the lens back focus; as I said yesterday no point using it if not with live view. The back focusing problem is visible even on the location, so no bad surprise when going back home.

Yes on the close and wide open shots the lens shows some “character”…

A bit frustrated I follow my journey along the Singapore river and put on the Color Skopar.


It is almost midday, the sky is cloudy as usual, so the light is not great. The colorful Alkaf bridge looks very dull on the above. Including the fact that the pictures are coming out with a wide purple band on the right side, even with the leica 21mm profile selected, this is really a no go.


The above is a bit better, but also required a bit of tweaking in Lightroom to remove the purple fringing on the right side.

 

CONCLUSION

So time for conclusion, I have played with the M9 and the M240 this summer, used some new and old lenses and…

1- I won’t rush to buy it: I think this is the most fair assessment I can do: I can probably afford to go to the shop and get a M240 + an Elmarit 28mmF2.8 but my test did not convince me that I really need to do it now.

2 – No mercy : the M240 has no mercy for lesser lenses : you may be lucky with a gem of an old lens, but clearly for me all these old ltm lens I have are useless. No point getting such an expensive kit to produce such below par shots. The weather in Luxembourg and Singapore is quite different but the 28mm Summicron results were far superior to the Elmarit.

3 – Back to film : Do not be mistaken, I really enjoyed the experience, going through the 800 to 900 shots of the week end was a bit painful, I could have done some things better and I may try again next year. Meanwhile I think that I would be more tempted to get a newer Leica film camera and a nice lens like a Summicron 35mm and wait before going digital. But meanwhile the meanwhile, I’ll go back to “junk” gear and Nikon digital. On a side note, I have been shooting recently with the D700 and 1980’s manual lenses again and unlike the Leica I am amazed by the results.

 

Leica M240 – A rented friend for a lonely week end (Day four, Monday)